I assume everyone has some version of a portion of their childhood spent playing their parents’ music collection. Whether you played with the heavy clunk of the 8-track track selector button or the feathered click of the wheel on a proto-iPod, everyone did some early music-as-toy playing that wove some tunes into their DNA while it was still shaping who they’d grow to be, right?
Well anyway, for me, in part, that formative play thing was Pete Seeger’s God Bless the Grass, so naturally, given the news of his passing, I’ve been listening to Seeger music all day.
I do actually listen to one Pete Seeger song with fair regularity - mostly because it gets stuck in my head a lot and I can never remember the order of the colors in the lyric:
If Pete Seeger’s music was meaningful to you, please share a link to what you’re listening to today in the comments. (The system has a spam filter that’s built to discourage link posting, so post the link a little broken to duck the filter and I’ll follow it with a clickable version.)
After the jump, more highlights and fun discoveries and I found a free version of God Bless the Grass online.
Apparently Pete Seeger had a MySpace page. Or at least, MySpace gave a lot of space to Pete Seeger, and they’ll suffer no slings or arrows from me because I’m grateful their collection includes the whole of God Bless The Grass, including the same album cover my folks had when I was a kid.
I think the last time I spent an lot of time immersed in Pete Seeger music was a couple of years ago when Wisconsin was heating up over union rights and someone at Metafilter compiled a list of old union songs and Seeger’s name appears throughout. Have you see him do Which Side Are You On? Or Union Maid? Having had first exposure to these songs as a child, with their sing-along choruses, it’s odd now to hear the anger and the power.
Can you imagine that ridiculous “Kristallnacht” guy turning on his TV and seeing an entire TV audience singing along with a song like that?
ADDING: Chris Hayes points out the great “This Land is Your Land” rendition from President Obama’s inauguration in which Seeger drags the entire country through all those stanzas no one ever learned:
Surely someone has written something thoughtful about the supplanting of the collective sing-along by the individualistic karaoke performance.
UPDATE: Dear Rachel, Love Pete Seeger:
ADDING: (Ok, I’m going to stop writing “adding” and just add stuff after this. Check back later and there will probably be more.)
From Flavorwire’s In Memory of Folk Legend Pete Seeger, 10 Iconic Performances, oh man…
Number 8 on their list is also really incredible.
Mother Jones has published a playlist as well, including a live performance of Bring ‘em Home:
In which Johnny Cash gives Pete Seeger a 100-year-old fretless banjo (and Pete refers to “Monkey Ward”):
Following recommendations in the comments, “Waiste Deep in the Big Muddy” (more on that here):
[embed:render:Pete Seeger: Waist Deep in the Big Muddy:full]
Via Greg Mitchell, “Pete Seeger on his sentencing for un-American activities. (1965)”:
Here’s the song he mentions that they were so upset about, Wasn’t That A Time.